Dec 18, 2012 18:23 UTC

Market signals turning point in U.S. gun debate

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By Robert Cyran

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Private equity isn’t known for squeamishness – or for dumping promising investments. So it’s significant that Cerberus Capital Management is selling its stake in Freedom Group, the largest U.S. firearms maker, following the Newtown school atrocity last week. Gunmakers’ shares are plunging, too: big money is betting on tougher restrictions.

May 11, 2012 16:13 UTC

Private equity bubble hangover yields HR headache

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By Quentin Webb

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Private equity’s bubble hangover has brought staffing headaches – and Terra Firma is suffering acutely. Guy Hands, the boss of the British buyout firm, is dipping into his own pocket to fund 20 million pounds of bonuses for employees over the next two years. The largesse is a necessary step to keep staff through an otherwise lean period. But Hands has made life particularly tricky for himself.

Mar 28, 2012 21:17 UTC

Dodger blue outshines gold after $2 bln deal

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By Christopher Swann and Martin Hutchinson
The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

The $2 billion deal for the Los Angeles Dodgers is a home run for sports owners everywhere. The near five-fold rise in the value of the West Coast baseball team since it last changed hands in 2004 underlines a surge in the value of top sports franchises. Only gold comes close to keeping pace as an investment. Rising television revenue is bringing in more cash. But it’s the swelling ranks of the ultra-rich in search of trophy investments that’s stoking prices.

These new owners usually stem from the ranks of high finance. Last year, Apollo co-founder Joshua Harris bought basketball’s 76ers in Philadelphia while Tom Gores and his buyout firm Platinum Equity snapped up the Detroit Pistons. And only last month, hedge fund manager Steven Cohen bought a 4 percent slug of the Mets.

Mar 6, 2012 12:00 UTC

Apax finds French twist on bankruptcy tourism

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By Neil Unmack

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Restructuring specialists have a lot to thank the UK for. The country’s creditor-friendly legal framework has drawn companies from across Europe to restructure in London. European Union law states that companies should use the insolvency regime relevant to their centre of main interest, or “comi” for short. But the concept is elastic; a Greek mobile telecoms company, Wind Hellas, was able to restructure in London by relocating one of its companies from Luxembourg to the UK.

Mar 1, 2012 22:16 UTC

Top hedgies show Wall Street how it’s done

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By Richard Beales

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

For bankers, the cash is greener on the other side of Wall Street. The top 40 hedge fund managers took home $13.2 billion between them for 2011, Forbes estimates. Yet even industry godfathers like Ray Dalio of Bridgewater Associates manage to attract far less opprobrium than bank bosses, whose paychecks are considerably smaller.

Feb 28, 2012 10:53 UTC

Browne’s North Sea idea is more than nostalgic

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By Kevin Allison

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Buying into Fairfield Energy, the North Sea-focused UK oil producer, would be a fitting move for John Browne. In the 1980s, when some of Fairfield’s most attractive assets were first being developed, the ex-BP boss was managing the Forties oil field off the coast of Aberdeen. But Browne’s interest in Fairfield, reported by the Sunday Times on Feb. 26, is likely to be more than just nostalgic. Fairfield specialises in mature oil fields that no longer interest the big majors. With oil prices likely to remain high for some time, and opportunities to buy unwanted acreage increasing, the deal has sound commercial appeal.

Feb 9, 2012 17:11 UTC

Romney tax row may bite European private equity

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By Quentin Webb

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Mitt Romney’s low-tax private equity payouts caused a storm stateside. European buyout bosses are unlikely to run for high office. But, like the former Bain Capital boss fighting to clinch the Republican presidential nomination, they also cash in on “carried interest” schemes which usually avoid income tax. The system is due a re-think on both sides of the Atlantic.

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Feb 6, 2012 21:32 UTC

April Fool’s comes early to comical M&A market

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By Robert Cyran

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

It’s hard not to smirk at the latest transaction to shoot out of the M&A pipeline. America’s largest title insurer, the $4 billion Fidelity National Financial, is buying O’Charley’s, an owner of U.S. steak joints. Not only is it a deal ripe for bad jokes about a combination plate of mortgage deeds and French fries. It also defies all convention.

Jan 31, 2012 20:12 UTC

Gingrich makes Goldman 4-letter word – to no avail

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By Daniel Indiviglio

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

The Florida Republican primary’s big winner tonight may be Wall Street’s most infamous bank. Front-runners Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney are trying to connect one another to the financial crisis. Gingrich paints his rival as an agent of the giant vampire squid, while Romney criticizes his opponent for being paid handsomely for advising Freddie Mac to inflate the housing bubble. But in a state still in pain from the bust, Romney’s line is winning.

Jan 24, 2012 12:31 UTC

Endemol tussle shows trials of evicting LBO owners

By Quentin Webb

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Contestants live under constant threat of eviction on “Big Brother”, Endemol’s flagship television show. Creditors have found turfing out the company’s owners much harder.

After years of wrangling, hedge funds which bought the TV producer’s loans on the cheap are set to take sizeable stakes through a debt restructuring. That makes Endemol a textbook example of what the distressed-debt specialists which are pouring capital and manpower into Europe call a “loan-to-own” deal. But it’s also a case study in how difficult these victories can be.